Food Lion own brands get more transparent around GMOs

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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Food Lion, a 1,000-store banner of Ahold Delhaize, has upgraded own brand packaging to meet new sustainable policies for genetically modified food and farm animal welfare, requiring all of its store brand packaging to have clear on-pack Bioengineered Food labeling. The new packaging initiative is done in partnership with Retail Business Services, the services arm of Ahold that develops its private brands.

Food Lion carries store brands under the Food Lion name as well as larger Retail Business Services established brands like Nature’s Promise.

At Food Lion, a healthy and sustainable community is at the heart of everything we do,” said Geoff Waldau, executive vice president of merchandising at Food Lion. “We are committed to nourishing our neighbors in the towns and cities we serve in a sustainable manner. In addition to providing healthier food choices and more locally sourced products for our customers, we are working hard to deliver greater transparency into the food they buy. The addition of these policies furthers our commitment to nutritious, transparent products that meet our customers’ preferences and lifestyles.”

Food Lion is active around transparency, previously committing to transparency of sustainable seafood products, and it has made commitments regarding sustainable chemistry, climate change and artificial ingredients. The company said all its own brand coffee, cocoa, tea and soy products are 100% sustainably sourced. Its parent company Ahold, just announced an update platform to reduce carbon emissions by half by 2030.

Food Lion’s new GMO policy requires all private brand products to have clear on-pack Bioengineered Food labeling, well ahead of the Federal Bioengineered labeling deadline of January 1, 2022. None of the Nature’s Promise items (organic or non-organic) include any intentionally added GMOs. 

In animal welfare, Food Lion is taking steps to ensure healthy farm animal welfare practices, expecting suppliers of whole or single ingredient cattle products, whole pork products, whole or single ingredient poultry products and other whole or single-ingredient products derived from farm animals to have an established publicly-facing animal welfare policy, report annually that they meet animal welfare acceptable levels of assurance and disclose progress through an annual animal welfare assessment and provide adequate training in their native language to all individuals involved with the direct handling of animals throughout the supply chain.

Food Lion said its animal welfare policy also addresses the following areas:

  • Animal testing: Food Lion does not support the testing of private brand food, pharmaceutical or cosmetic products and their ingredients on animals; nor does it ask suppliers of private brand products to conduct animal testing, unless there is a legal obligation;
  • Antimicrobials: Food Lion supports the judicious use of antimicrobials on farm to help sick and injured farm animals with a veterinarian’s oversight. Food Lion does not support the use of antimicrobials medically crucial to humans nor the prophylactic use of antimicrobials in animal farming;
  • Broiler Chickens: Food Lion recognizes concerns related to growth size and rate and stocking density of chickens raised for meat production and is actively speaking with suppliers, stakeholders and animal welfare experts to develop a set of product standards related to breed, stocking density and enriched environments and examining science-based studies to make updates to the animal welfare policy;
  • Confined housing systems: Food Lion has committed to working with suppliers to reach a 100 percent cage-free shell egg assortment by 2025 or sooner. Food Lion understands there are several confinement concerns linked to gestation stalls for breeding pigs or sows, and the companies are asking pork suppliers to transition to group housing and eliminate the use of gestation stalls by 2025 or sooner;
  • Growth hormones: Food Lion sells only private brand milk products free of the artificial growth hormone rBST/rBGH. Additionally, the Food Lion offers Nature’s Promise free from meat that prohibits the use of hormones and growth stimulants​; and 
  • Pain management: Food Lion expects suppliers of fresh and frozen products derived from whole or single ingredient cattle, pork, poultry and other whole or single-ingredient products derived from farm animals to have written policies detailing best practices for managing painful procedures to reduce suffering.

The animal welfare policy applies to all suppliers. Food Lion will begin working toward compliance with private brand suppliers and work with all suppliers to improve compliance throughout the total assortment of whole- or single-ingredient products by 2025.